Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mt. Jackson and a Mission

Alyssa and I at the trailhead
Another beautiful summer morning!  The summer of 2014 has been exceptional.  I am sitting on my porch sipping a cold glass of iced coffee and feeling pretty content, with the exception of my body.  My legs are toast, my knee is swollen, my lower back is aching, my toes feel like they have been stepped on (my pretty pink jamicure done in), the soles of my feet are throbbing, and the palms of my hands are sporting two lovely blisters smack dab in the middle.  "Why," you may ask.  I hiked Mount Jackson yesterday.  Mount Jackson sits in the Presidential Range (although, it is not named for President Jackson, but rather for a geologist named Charles Jackson)  in NH, with a summit of 4,052 feet.  It is described as a moderate hike (really?) having rock scrambles and cascades.  "Rock scrambles are when a hiker needs to use their hands and feet to get over rocks, boulders, and ledges to get over the trail.  Rock scrambles can be a lot of fun, but also challenging, so scramble with caution, because this is dangerous and tumbles happen." I felt like a mountain goat clinging for dear life to the rocks.  Once at the summit we were delighted by a stunning 360 degree view. It was beautiful to say the least and I felt a true sense of accomplishment. It's strange to imagine that the hike up was the easy part, but it was.  Hiking down is tough.  It was precarious and my legs were rubbery.  Then it happened!  Yes, IT!  I smashed my already injured knee into a rock. Searing jolts of pain radiated through my knee and for a few minutes I questioned how I would get down.  We were about half a mile from the trailhead and I just went very slowly using my poles as supports.  I had also run out of water before I even reached the summit.  So I hobbled the rest of the way with my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth.  It was awful.
With sweat pouring off my face I persevered, and as Brene Brown so eloquently stated in a TED talk, I "leaned into the discomfort," forcing my body to do what it didn't want to do.  It took over six hours and according to MapMyHike, I burned over 2,900 calories!  Certainly enough to offset the Coronas we enjoyed afterward!

The Summit Mt. Jackson
I did learn a few things for my next hike!

  1. Bike gloves to protect my palms from the poles that I lean on so heavily.
  2. Three bottles of water, not one!
  3. Hiking shoes with ankle support.  Mine are low and my ankles felt it.
  4.  Figure out how to prevent "toe jam."

I try to stay fit, but exercise isn't really my friend, I have to push myself.  I would much rather be reading or gardening, baking or crafting.  I do enjoy hiking "lite."  A stroll with a gradual incline, no rock scrambles!  So why am I doing this? I lost my parents when I was a teenager.  I had just turned 15 when I lost my Mother.  Not a particularly easy time for such an experience, as if any time is.  Now I have a strong faith and have generally found living according to the tenets of my faith to be fairly easy. Even as a teenager it was easy for me to let's say, "not kill anyone" or "covet my neighbor's wife." The tough one for me was that whole honoring your mother and father thing.  At fifteen I was in full blown adolescence, a period I've heard referred to as "transient psychosis!"  All those hormones flying around and all that neural pruning occurring!   I was an impulsive, egocentric kid and not always respectful to my parents.  In losing them early I was robbed of the opportunity to reconcile with them.

It's been thirty-eight years and I have often wondered how I could make things right.  Running with a friend last summer, she asked if I had given any thought as to how I could honor my Mother.  I hadn't. The past is the past, isn't it?  What difference would it make now?  The difference is, I could do today what I didn't do yesterday.  I could take on a challenge as a measure of respect.  Respect for the things I learned from my Mother but didn't know I was learning because I was knee-deep in acting like, well, a teenager.  From her I learned to love God, to sacrifice for my children, to be brave, to be resilient, to persevere, to work hard.

So when I brought up this idea of doing something in memory of my Mother to my friend Scott, he didn't skip a beat.  In true Scott fashion he said four words; "the four thousand footers!"  There are forty-eight four thousand foot mountains in New Hampshire and I plan on hiking every one of them in honor of my Mother.  It will take me years and I can't imagine it will get any easier.

As for today, I sit on the summit of Mount Jackson with my friend, Alyssa, who has pledged to join me on this journey.  I am able to say, "Thank you, Mom, for giving me life and always doing the best with what you had.  Thank you for loving me.  I love you and will see you again in paradise."


  1. Great read - I love your writing style!

    1. Thanks, Scarlett. It was a good one for me to write!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks!! I hope it made the elliptical workout a little more bearable;)

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Heidi! It is a journey, isn't it?